(TibetanReview.net, Nov04, 2014) – China said Nov 1 that it had made it easier for citizens to sue the government by amending the country’s Administrative Procedure Law. The amendment, passed by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress during its week-long, bi-monthly legislative session, allows courts to launch proceedings whenever government departments are sued for violating agreements on land, housing compensation or commercial operations franchised by the government.
Courts will launch administrative proceedings if the government is sued for violating agreements on land and housing compensation and commercial operations franchised by the government, reported China’s official Xinhua news agency Nov 1.
The amended law requires authorities to offer compensation even if they had legitimate reasons to terminate contracts.
Also, defendants – who would be representatives of the concerned government bodies – are required to personally appear before the court to answer allegations of wrongdoing. Whereas currently most such defendants ask their lawyers or other staff to represent them in court, under the new law they face additional punishment for non-appearance. “Having them appear in court will also promote officials’ awareness of the rule of law,” Jiang Ming’an, a professor in Peking University, was quoted as saying.
Parties in lawsuits, including government staff, will be fined or detained if they “force” a plaintiff to withdraw their suit through illegal means such as threats or fraud, the amendment was further cited as saying.
Also, under the amended law, more rights infringement cases are to be accepted by courts whereas previously actionable cases were confined to only “specific administrative acts” – providing excuses to courts to throw out many cases by claiming them to be outside the scope of such cases. The report cited a survey by Xiu Fujin, a member of the NPC Standing Committee, as showing that only 35.19 percent of cases filed against government agencies were accepted by courts in 2012.
China passed the Administrative Procedure Law in 1990 as a major guarantee for the citizens’ right to pursue the government through the courts. The current amendment is meant to provide a more solid legal foundation for administrative and judicial reform, the report cited lawmakers as saying.